Clostridium perfringens

This is a less well known bacteria which causes severe stomach cramps and a mild form of diarrhoea that lasts only about 24 hours and therefore tends to go unreported. However, it is probably fairly common and can be fatal in the frail elderly or people who are already ill.

clostridum perfringensSymptoms begin about 8 to 22 hours after the food is eaten. Large numbers of the bacteria have to be eaten before you get sick, but because the bacteria can grow very fast (the number can double every 18 minutes) it doesn’t take long for large numbers to build up. The cause of the illness is a toxin that is produced when the bacteria forms spores in the gut. It’s the presence of the toxin that makes you sick.

Clostridium perfringens is widely found in soil and in intestinal tracts of humans. It is usually associated with food that has been allowed to stay warm for several hours. During cooking, which will kill most types of bacteria, Clostridium perfringens turns into another form called a spore. A spore is like a seed, it stays dormant in the food until conditions are favourable, then like a plant seed it will germinate and grow. The spores of Clostridium perfringens are very heat resistant and will withstand boiling for several hours